Chicago theaters staging new plays by women this fall

Five Chicago theater companies invest in women’s work this season.

Photograph: courtesy Goodman TheatreOlivia Cygan and Jordan Brodess in a 2014 developmental staging of Feathers and Teeth at Goodman Theatre. Both reprise their roles for the premiere.

The majority of theatergoers are women—several reports show ticket buyers are 60 to 70 percent female. Yet according to a new study released in July, 78 percent of the plays produced in the United States between 2011 and 2014 were written by men. This came hot on the heels of the second iteration of the List, from a Los Angeles group called the Kilroys, that gave theaters recommendations for 53 ready-for-production new plays by women and transgender writers. 

In the 2015–16 season, though, some of Chicago’s top theaters are falling down on the job. Steppenwolf and Victory Gardens have just one woman writer each this year. At Court Theatre, Northlight Theatre and Writers Theatre, you’ll find zero non-male writers this season. But don’t fear, there are bright spots, too. In the July study, 36 percent of productions at Chicago’s theaters were written by women, well above the national average. Here’s a look at five diverse new works by women hitting Chicago stages large and small this fall.